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The international standard for measuring temperature is the Calvin scale, but some countries, such as the United States, are still using Fahrenheit. Us mere mortals use either Fahrenheit or Celsius, but in scientific fields, Kelvin is used. Why is that exactly, and why are there many different ways of measuring temperature?

It all boils down to history and convenience. An engineer, physicist and glassblower by the name of Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit (1686 – 1736), invented a temperature scale that was based on three temperature points:

  • The freezing point of water
  • Human body temperature
  • The coldest point he could reproduce in his experiments (ice, aluminium chloride)

Although Fahrenheit was a start, it was by no means a simple and easy scale of temperature to use.

Along came an astronomer by the name of Anders Celsius (1701 – 1744) who invented another temperature measuring scale. His was simply based on the freezing and boiling points of water, with 100 increments in between. This is why it is often referred to as the centigrade scale, a standard still used today.

Lastly, we have Kelvin, invented by Lord Kelvin in 1848. Kelvin is yet another scale of temperature which is based on absolute zero, the point where particles have no vibration and where scientists believe no colder temperature is possible. Kelvin is mainly used in physics and chemistry.

Take a look at the video below by the youTube channel, Met Office - Learn About Weather, on Fahrenheit to Celsius: History Of The Thermometer...

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